We hear a lot about “10,000 hours” being what it takes to become an expert. But the majority of people totally misunderstand the idea.
So I decided to go to the source and talk to the guy who actually created the theory.
Anders Ericsson is a professor of psychology at Florida State University. His wonderful new book is Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.
So what does everybody get wrong? 2 things.
First, the “10,000 hour rule” is not a rule and it’s not an exact number. The amount of time varies from field to field. It’s an average. But it’s always a lot and more is better. Here’s Anders:
In most domains it’s remarkable how much time even the most “talented” individuals need in order to reach the highest levels of performance. The 10,000 hour number just gives you a sense that we’re talking years of 10 to 20 hours a week which those who some people would argue are the most innately talented individuals still need to get to the highest level.
What’s the second mistake? Becoming an expert is not merely doing something over and over for 10,000 hours. There’s a right way — and an awful lot of wrong ways — to spend that time.
Let’s learn the right way…
Here’s what Anders says can make you an expert:
- Get Help: Find a mentor who can help you develop that image in your head of the best way to do something.
- It’s Not “Try Harder”, It’s “Try Different”: Design specific activities to address your weak points.
- It’s About Doing, Not Knowing: Remember the three F’s: Focus, Feedback, Fix it.
- Study The Past To Have A Better Future: Find examples that have been judged and quiz yourself.
Don’t worry; you do not have to be a genius to become an expert at most things. In fact, Anders says it might be an advantage not to be a genius.
When elite chess players were studied, the ones with lower IQ’s often worked harder and then did better because they felt they were at a disadvantage.
Source: The 4 Rituals That Will Make You An Expert At Anything